Free prom dress programs across NJ and US

Prom coupleApril is prom month. If you’re a young lady of modest means you can be the belle of the ball with a free or low-cost designer dress ($10 is low, right?) in beautiful condition from one of the prom dress giveaway programs in New Jersey and around the country. Act soon though. Giveaways are going on right now all over the New York/New Jersey area and in many cities across the country! Some programs provide accessories and shoes to match gowns … and they may share tasty treats and other gifts with “shoppers” and their moms, as well. The idea is, that every young person should have the chance to attend prom dressed fabulously and fashionably, whether they have lots of money or don’t.

There aren’t nearly as many resources for young men looking for a suit or help renting a tux, but that doesn’t mean help is not available! My own son was gifted a free tuxedo rental from Operation Prom, so we know that as of last week, this program was working great (see details below). Post-high school women can find a fancy dress at Catherine’s Closet in Newark, so if you are a woman past high school age, visit there or just ask other giveaway shops if they can help you out. There’s never any harm in asking.

If none of the resources on this page get you the results you need, don’t be discouraged. Keep looking! There are quite a few organizations providing free or low cost prom dresses in New Jersey and around the country. Students, also ask your guidance counsellor if they know of a local program which provides free or low-cost dresses, suits or tuxes, or try reaching out to a church or youth center in your neighborhood. Remember: help is always one ask away. If you spend some time searching the net, you may turn up some good resources (this is how I found most of what’s listed here). And consider enlisting the help of a reference librarian – they are extraordinarily good at this sort of thing and most of them are delighted to assist.

If you’re a person wanting to give away a fancy dress, prom dress, accessories, or you would like to volunteer at a prom giveaway drive, I’m certain any of these organizations would love to hear from you, so just reach out!

NEWARK – Catherine’s Closet, Inc.
Distribution at 550 Broad Street, Newark NJ 973-616-2060
On Two Dates from 8:30am – 12pm (noon)
Saturday, April 13, 2013 and Saturday, May 11, 2013

Cost: $10 for student gowns & $10 dressy dresses for adults – Cash only!
Everyone is welcome, but you must come on one of the distribution dates. No ID required. All proceeds will benefit Catherine’s Closet, Inc. and scholarship funds.

Provided: Designer gowns, accessories and fancy dresses in all sizes by Armani, Jessica Mcclintock, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s

Volunteer Opportunity!
Volunteers needed to sort the collection on Saturday, April 6, 2013 and on both Distribution Dates to be Personal Shoppers. Personal Shoppers, please wear black tops!

PATERSON AREA – Cinderella For A Day prom dress giveaway
Distribution at 105 Church Street, Totowa NJ
Saturday April 20 2013 12pm (noon) – 5pm

Cost: Free!
No one will be turned down! But students who pre-registered will get first choice.

Provided: In addition to getting a free prom dress, there are also free shoes, jewelry and accessories. There will be music, snacks, games, raffles, crafts, cool make-up tips and on-the-spot hair styling. “It’s set up like a store,” said Petrasek, “with changing stations and different stylists.”

This event is run by Natasha Civil of Bloomfield with support from Team HOPE, the Paterson Free Public Library and other community groups. For more information, feel free to contact Natasha Civil 973-393-7503 or Michelle Petrasek 973-321-1223

Beautiful prom dresses, free or very affordableTRENTON AREA – The Wish Shop
Distribution: Shop is open April through May 2013, but only Saturdays!
The Wish Shop
228 Scotch Road, Ewing NJ
Open at 10am on Saturdays. No closing time posted, so go early.

Cost: $10 gowns, accessories for $2 each, shoes $5
Or, everything free with a voucher from a community partner agency

You can visit the shop on any Saturday during prom season and buy a gown, accessories and shoes for $25 or less, or contact One Simple Wish at 609-883-8484 or and ask for a referral to get a voucher so you can have everything for free. I exchanged several emails with One Simple Wish, and still wasn’t able to learn who their community partners are, so I’m thinking that they prefer to have students to contact them individually.

The Wish Shop is the public outlet for One Simple Wish’s Project Prom. The shop offers prom gowns, shoes, jewelry and accessories to hundreds of young women, and the organization tries to connect their teen clientele with hair stylists, make-up artists, crafters, food vendors and others who wish to donate their services to help make prom a fun occasion for all. Most Saturdays when the shop is open, treats like chocolates and pastries are also served to shoppers while they peruse the collection.

Volunteer and Donation Opportunities:
Donate a Dress or Accessories: One Simple Wish collects gently worn dresses, costume jewelry and NEW dress shoes from March 1 – April 30 of each year. To arrange for a drop off or discuss a pick up, please contact the organization at 609-883-8484 or Check the One Simple Wish Meetup Group page for volunteer opportunities.

Distribution: April at various locations around the city, in Westchester, Hudson and Dutchess Counties and some New Jersey locations
Register on the website for a free prom dress or to request a free tuxedo rental.

To qualify for a free dress or tuxedo, you must be a student, and be passing your classes (proof may be requested). Donations of dresses or money are gladly accepted.

In New Jersey also check

Becca’s Closet
Locations: Freehold, Hackettstown, Washington Township (in central-west Jersey)

Cinderella’s Closet of Monmouth County – Freehold
Contact: Katie Adams and Stephanie Tomasetta 732-252-8327

And here’s a national directory of prom dress giveaway programs

13 Replies to “Free prom dress programs across NJ and US”

  1. Hello I recently was laid off of my job and prom season is now here. I’m having trouble financially getting the items my daughter needs for prom and to top it off she’s a very plus size girl so finding a dress at the prom give aways have been extremely difficult to the point where she does not want to go to prom Can someone help us?

    1. TODAY 4/30 Cinderella for a Day is hosting their annual free dress giveaway. No registration needed just come direct. Hours are 12 – 4 PM and it’s located at the Wholelife Community Church, 105 Church St in Totowa, NJ.

  2. Hello, my company would like to get involved with a charitable organization and has decided to collect used prom dresses from local residents to pass along. Do you have a contact name so I can speak with someone direct?

    1. What a great way to serve the community! In my post, I mention several organizations that collect dresses. Please try reaching out to one in your area, but if you have trouble locating a program give me a call at 201-477-8711 and I’ll give you a hand. I’d love to know how this works out for you and if you send me photos of your collection I’ll be happy to do a post just about you guys.

      BTW, what town are you in?

      Best of luck!

  3. Yes I am look for free prom dress for women that never completed high school but decided to make a change in their life by overcoming addiction, abuse and starting a new beginning. that can restore and rebuild their self-esteem because they completed the counseling program.

  4. I didnt have my sweet 16 or my quinciañera because my parents didnt have money for it.. I had been asked to prom in 8th grade but i could go because i didnt have money to buy a dress! Now im in my last year of HIGH SCHOOL im a senior and my parents are sad . I wish i could get a dress and feel what is being a princess and what it feel to be at a prom like the others girl ! Im from perth amboy nj

  5. when do the program’s begin? I would love more info as I have 4 teenage daughters, 3 in high school and one in 8th grade. Please provide me with more info. We live in Salem, Nj
    Thank you

    1. Wow!!! Four girls can be very expensive, there will be a free prom dress giveaway on this Saturday, March 29th from 10am-3pm, my advice get there very early to get first choice of dresses, event will be held @ Schalick High School, Good Luck!!!! Everyone deserves to be pretty on prom day!!

    1. Hi Darlene. I can check with the different organizations that distribute dresses and get back to you … feel free to tweet me @kimiwei with other questions.

  6. I was able to get a dress from the Cinderella For A Day in Totowa, and it was FREE! They also had free shoes, jewelry, and bags. They even had people who were doing hair and giving make-up tips. Everybody was just so nice and helpful. I highly recommend that people go next year, because the experience was great!

  7. Hi, I know that BUURG—the Bergen County Unitarian Universalist Relief Group—was collecting dresses (I think tuxes, too, but not sure) for students in Little Ferry and Moonachie, which were hit so hard by the storm. Look for them on Facebook for details.

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